Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Shot Down and Pissed Off

Note: The following is true. I know it will seem like I am slanting things to make myself look good, but I swear I did not make any of this stuff up.
Six Months Ago

Admin (very cheerful and upbeat): Okay Gang (he actually uses that phrase all the time) we need to choose new books for the various grade levels, and it's your job to get us some good ones! I'm breaking you into grade level groups. Here are the goals we are trying to meet in each grade, and here are the options available. Evaluate each option and decide if it meets our goals.

My Grade Level Team: Okay, after looking at all the options we think these two books do the best job of meeting our goals. Book #1 does a great job on this, and book #2 does an okay job.

Admin: Great! Now I see that you think one book does a better job of meeting our goals, but you never can tell until you use it, so go out there and try it with kids! Remember, you and the kids are the ones to make the final decision! (he really does speak in exclamations most of the time)


Admin: Okay Gang (I'm not making him up) now that you've field tested the books you can calculate the average student response.

Us (furrowing our brows and adding numbers furiously): Wow, it looks like both books scored almost exactly the same! Kids really liked both books. In fact, the difference is statistically insignificant. What should we do now?

Me: Maybe we should choose book #1 because it meets the goals we started out with.

Teammate #1: No, we should choose book #2 because it had fun games with it (I'm not making this up).

Me: That game was fun, but it seems like maybe the books is not as good at meeting our goals.

Teammate #2: My kids thought the game was fun AND they liked they video.

Me: That was a good video, but remember how we had the goal about making sure all of our kids would be able to read and understand the book we choose? Book #2 is very complicated in some spots.

Teammate #3: My kids didn't have any trouble understanding book #2. Also, they really liked the game (I swear I'm not making this up!).

Me: That may be true, but you teach a class of highly capable students. This book is supposed to be for everyone, and then we will choose extra stuff for the Plus kids.

Teammate #2: The special education teacher in our school said that her kids really like games.

Me: Did you show her the books?

Teammate #2: No.

Me: I showed the books to my special education team and they said book #2 would be very hard for their kids to read. Did you know that book #2 was written at the 10th grade level?

Teammates: No.

This sort of conversation circles around for a couple more hours as we finish writing up our results.

Admin: Okay Gang! It's time to vote!

Me: I vote for book #1

Them: We vote for book #2

Admin (after we explain our positions): She has some very good points Guys (we are all girls in this group, but who's really paying attention). Have you really discussed her points?

Them: Yes, we think book #2 is good.

Me: What about our goals? What about readability? Ignore the games! Compare the books! (I am getting more frantic and trying REALLY hard not to let it show, but I sort of end in a squeak)

Them: WE WANT BOOK #2!

Admin: Well Guys, it's not up to me. Make sure you put her objections into the report.

Me: Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!

Them: Great! Let's write the report!

Me: Squeak!

Them: We picked a fun book!

Me: squeak

Them: The kids will really like the game

Me: ---


::Wendy:: said...

Fabulous example of democracy at work. I understood that the US electorate system was put in place for when they masses made a poor choice. Similarly the 2 house system in the UK was developed to ensure that knowledge - represented by a family experienctial history of having to manage at a 'large scale' level could explicitly be heard. I feel your frustration.... ...you pointed out the key decision points. You weren't heard. I wonder why? I suspect that sometimes the content of the arguement is not heard, the manner of presentation wins-out, and its not fair.

wonderful entry, really made me think

Mark said...

That reminded of this story about the western world's last feudal state moving to have an elected parliament. The place is a channel island state called Sark.